School for the Deaf Foundation approves educational grants

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Oklahoma School for the Deaf students benefit from the educational grants awarded by the OSD Foundation to innovative teachers and student life staff.

The Oklahoma School for the Deaf Foundation recently awarded 12 grants totaling $8,092.52 to fund OSD academic programs and projects not included in OSD’s general budget.

OSD Foundation members are an independent, volunteer-based board of trustees: President Pam Agee-Chitwood; Treasurer Craig Abla; Shawna Case; Richard Dietzel; Kemper Howe; Dr. Tre Landrum, ENT; Scott Lowry; Susan Nelson; Seandra Ramer; Lacee Sartors; and Bill Wright.

Foundation members encourage OSD teachers and student life staff to submit detailed grant requests with budgets at the beginning of each school year.

For 2021-2022, requests funded by the foundation range from a trampoline to business start-up costs, animated storybooks and hands-on science activities.

In addition, OSD funded six additional grants for $7,070 to for items already in the school’s budget that will need consistent funding to continue the programs.

“Normally we have less than 10 grant requests each year, but the foundation got almost twice as many requests this year,” Traci Prince, OSD director of outreach, said. “More and more staff are aware of the foundation and what they can do to expand language learning opportunities and experiences.”

Prince said that events like OSD’s annual golf tournament in the spring are increasing awareness about the foundation’s generosity and support.

As OSD’s liaison to the foundation, Prince attends their meetings and assists with goals to expand membership and participation across the state.

“The historic OSD Foundation does an amazing job enhancing educational opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing students and supporting OSD educators and staff,” OSD Superintendent Chris Dvorak said. “For example, because of the OSD Foundation’s support, the Betty S. Fine Museum now has been granted a permanent home on the OSD campus.”

The OSD Foundation helps support OSD’s summer camps, including a two-week camp that bridges a cultural gap between OSD students and deaf and hard of hearing students attending mainstream educational programs in public schools.

The foundation has also granted scholarships for graduating seniors seeking post-secondary education at universities or vocational training.

“OSD is the statewide resource center for deafness and hard of hearing students in Oklahoma,” Dvorak said. “In addition to 125 of students attending OSD, our school also funds two educational consultants who travel the state to serve 250 kids in local public schools in their own communities.

OSD offers family, interpreter and online American Sign Language training, and operates two Early Childhood Centers located in Chickasha and the OKC metro area.

“Joining the OSD Foundation feels like a return to my roots as I did my practicum and internship at OSD before I graduated from East Central University in 1988,” Susan Nelson, OSD Foundation board member said. “I have been learning what the foundation has provided to the students, teachers, and facility staff, and the opportunity to provide feedback or insight.

“As one of the few deaf members, it has been a good way for the other members to learn to be accommodating with each other and that spills on to making reasonable decisions for everyone at OSD,” Nelson said. “I am looking forward to the next meeting in December.”

Those who wish to support deaf education may donate to the OSD Foundation at https://www.osdfoundation.net/shop or mail a check to the OSD Foundation, 1100 East Oklahoma Avenue, Sulphur, OK 73086.

For more information about the OSD, email Foundation@osd.k12.ok.us or phone 580-622-4909.